BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Broward County has taken the first steps towards banning the herbal drug called kratom.
Found in head shops and at kava bars, the designer drug comes from a tree in Southeast Asia and produces both a stimulant and sedative effect. Some say it can become addictive as heroin.
One South Florida mother watched her son's life spiral out of control after becoming addicted to kratom.
Linda Mautner said her son Ian Mautner was a happy successful 17-year old when he started taking kratom at a kava bar with friends.
While his friends didn't like it, she said her son began going back for more and more.
"He never had any money and he worked," she told CBS4's Joan Murray.
Linda Mautner said her son started spending $165 dollars a day on kratom packets, which she said he "downed like Kool-Aid chased with water."
Linda Mautner, a surgical nurse, said she noticed behavioral changes in her son.
"He became argumentative; his eyes would roll back in his head. He was delusional at times. He was not the same person," she recalled.
Ian Mautner was in and out of rehab for nearly two and a half years before he plunged to his death on I-95.
"They found in his car six empty packets (of kratom) and two full ones," said Linda Mautner.
After hearing the tragic story, Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs moved to ban kratom in his county.
"As a mother and grandmother, it bothers me someone is profiting off our children," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said she did an online search for locations in Fort Lauderdale where Kratom could be bought and was absolutely appalled when she saw pages upon pages of listings.
"I was stunned to see how available it is," Jacobs said.
Linda Mautner said she was glad to see Broward County taking action to ban kratom.
"This is how we protect our kids, our future generations. It's becoming an epidemic," she said.
for more features.